The world of high end smartwatches is a fascinating one. Montblanc remains part of a select group that takes the same Google Wear OS you can find on a smartwatch and wraps it in stainless steel, titanium and partners it up with calfskin leather bands.
Launching at the same time as the new Tag Heuer Connected 3rd generation, the new Montblanc Summit 2+ is its third Wear OS smartwatch in four years. The first Summit was uncharacteristically ordinary looking for a brand that is renowned for its classy design. Thankfully, that was restored with the Summit 2, which brought that craftsmanship, thoughtful software extras and the fitness features that prospective smartwatch owners now crave.
- Check out our guide to the best smartwatch 2020
For the third iteration, it’s ready to help the smartwatch stand alone. While we have seen LTE-enabled Wear OS watches from LG some years ago and more recently with the TicWatch Pro, the Summit 2 Plus is the first luxury Wear watch that will let you turn on those cellular powers directly from the Wear OS app.
To do that though, you’ll need to part with the princely sum of $1,170.
Montblanc Summit 2+: Design
That $1,170 still gets you a beaut of a watch. With its added connectivity powers, its size has jumped from 42mm to a 43.5mm one. That holds a 1.28-inch sized AMOLED display. You’ve also got your pick of four different looks; steel with a leather strap, black DLC with a black rubber strap, rose gold with a cream leather strap or copper coloured steel with a khaki calf band.
While Montblanc made the welcome move to offer models for men and women with the Summit 2, our overall feeling is that this is still a watch that feels very masculine. The casing is big, the streamlined look. Even the watch faces still scream this is a watch for a man.
You can't knock the quality of materials used here and the design that is inspired by Montblanc's traditional timepieces. There’s sapphire crystal glass, two pushers (buttons) and a crown adorned with Montblanc's logo that feels lovely to press and twist.
We need to talk about the straps too. We often talk up Apple's bands, but Montblanc has clearly pulled out all the stops to match up its smartwatch with equally gorgeous bands too. The textured sporty ones built for the gym feel great and the leather options are the kind you'd expect to find on luxury watch.
Montblanc learnt from the mistakes it made with the first generation Summit. These smartwatches are distinctive and feel like they are built to last. Pressed to pick, the copper with khaki band was definitely our favourite of the new bunch.
Montblanc Summit 2+: Cellular skills
The Summit 2+ will basically do everything the Summit 2 that includes tracking your outdoor activity with built-in GPS and making payments. Montblanc is also adding a speaker to let you listen to music and hear responses to your Google Assistant queries.
The big deal here is that it’s now adding LTE into the features mix. This will allow you to make and receive calls, messages and stream music. It’s doing that using a similar eSIM solution as the TicWatch Pro LTE. It will allow you to share the same number as your phone and is MontBlanc is making a big deal of the fact that you can set this all up and activate LTE through the Wear OS app for the first time.
Here’s the kicker though; LTE support is only going to work with Android phones at launch. There’s no indication when or if the functionality will be brought to Apple’s smartphones, which is disappointing. While Google has made moves recently to improve Wear OS support across both Android and iOS, you’re still getting the best experience paired to a smartphone running Google’s OS.
Like most of the LTE-enabled smartwatches out there, it won’t work with every carrier. Montblanc is launching with support for Vodafone (UK/Germany), Orange (France/Spain) and Verizon (USA) first.
Montblanc Summit 2+: Wear OS
Google’s smartwatch operating system is once again the software driver on the latest Summit, bringing all of those Wear staples. That’s powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Wear 3100, which incidentally debuted on the second generation Summit.
A quick scroll through the screens shows there’s not a lot new here to highlight in terms of apps you can expect to see preloaded. You are still getting the Workout Coach to offer recommended workouts and training advice. It’s not a feature that blew us away on the Summit 2, so hopefully there's some improvements on that front.
When we spoke to Dr. Felix Frank Obschonka, Montblanc’s director of new technologies, he told us that the company was surprised by the importance placed on watch faces by smartwatch owners. It’s now dedicating more time to that support and that's definitely good to hear. The collection of watch faces on the Summit 2+ we had a play with were a nice mixture of traditional, digital and fitness tracking-focused options. The analogue-style ones definitely feel like the best fit for its traditional watch body.
There’s no doubt that Montblanc now knows how to make a really nice looking smartwatch and that’s further typified by the new Summit 2+. The bigger screen is a welcome addition and LTE connectivity means it has a feature that very few Wear OS watches currently offer.
But it is still Wear OS and that means good and bad things. The bad mainly being an operating system that still lacks the polish and intuitiveness of its closest rivals. Then there's the likely mediocre battery life, which will no doubt be hit further when LTE is in use.
That extra of LTE comes at a cost of around $175 on the Bluetooth only model, which makes an already expensive smartwatch even more costly. Montblanc has proved it can make a beautiful smartwatch, it’s up to Google to give it software to make this one worth splashing the cash on.
How we test